Winning Business BEFORE The Meeting
When I started business school, I remember the teachers lining up and saying, one by one, “I teach you how to make it,” “I teach you how to count it,” and finally, “I teach you how to sell it.”
Every business has these functions, whether the person running the business or the firm wants to admit it.
Life is a lot easier when you’re good at them.
I focus narrowly on being good at the “how you sell it” portion of business with my clients.
Typically, they have inbound leads they’ve worked hard to create, through advertising, building a network, or something else.
For the vast majority, there’s a huge opportunity to improve win (or close) rates in the actual conversation with the potential client or customer.
Read this: for most people and organizations, this is one of the most crucial levers they can pull. It involves how they set up the conversation, handle it, talk about money, build trust, understand and navigate decision-making, and work to the mutually agreed upon next step.
Sometimes, there’s a need to pull a different lever.
For one of my clients, she was running into challenges during her consult or discovery call, despite people wanting what she sold, and being roughly the right fit client type.
We made one small change BEFORE the meeting that had a big impact. It led her to seven consecutive closes with prospects.
We didn’t change anything else: pricing, the offer, anything in her consultation, or her advertising.
I’ll tell you what that is, and why it worked.
Sometimes, there’s only so much improvement you can do in the “selling” portion of an interaction.
My client was getting better all the time in her consults, doubling her close rate since we started working together.
But there were issues, especially when it came to talking about money. People pushed back and claimed they didn’t have it.
Guess what? Americans are drowning in debt. Money is there, if we want it.
I took a swing at the problem and changed what HER ASSISTANT said on the phone with prospects before they came to the consult.
Two weeks later, both the assistant and my client were beaming.
My client said, “It’s like they’re ready to give me money.”
What did we do? I’m getting to that.
Sometimes I solve a different problem than the one I intended.
In this case, I wanted to weed out people who weren’t going to buy. My clients, often attorneys, don’t have time in spades. If we KNOW someone isn’t going to be a win, we need to cut the meeting.
It’s the principle of inversion: don’t deal with people who won’t buy.
So I told the assistant to do this after she booked the meeting. Say,
“Hey, we don’t know if you’ll want to hire us, but if you do, how do you want to pay?”
I was simply trying to find the people who couldn’t answer that question. If they had no clue about that, or wanted to start fighting over fees (flat rate for my client, not hourly), we’d just cancel the meeting.
I thought, “Well, at least we’ll give her some time back.”
That afternoon, the assistant messaged me and said, “They told us they want to put it on the card! This is working!”
Two weeks later, I discovered they’d ripped off 7 straight.
Why did this work?
Some of this has to do with conditioning, some with the concept of inception. Remember that movie?
I’d known we could impact some of a meeting by talking to people about the content of a meeting ahead of time, as well as discussing decisions and next steps.
I just hadn’t thought about money that way.
So we started to condition them to think through the money piece.
By doing that, they started to solve the problem ahead of time, before they sat with our attorney. Think about it. You need something (like legal counsel), but you don’t necessarily go into the nuts and bolts of HOW it works. You just “go talk to an attorney.” Because, well, that’s what you do.
You don’t think about the process. So we talked to prospects about the process of the meeting, and what might occur after. Made it easier to make it a sales call rather than a “we’re giving you the playbook on how to solve this on your own” (which 99% of people can’t or won’t do anyway).
Now, we added the piece about money. They began thinking about it THEN – on the phone, while booking the meeting. And had time to sort it out BEFORE they got to my client.
Inception. We put the idea of paying – simple enough – into their head. It was their problem to solve, not ours. So they began to work on it.
We’re building a new piece in pre-consult that should make consults even easier, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.
There’s a world of research on this, and I’m digging into it. Because I’m asking, “How do I help my clients win more, and faster?” The questions I’m asking, and that you want to be asking, especially if you’re in a commoditized market are:
- How do we build trust sooner?
- How do we get more of the right attention, especially when they’re looking to hire?
- How do we have them associate us with pain relief or pleasant outcomes?
- What are the factors impacting decision-making?
- Where does behavioral economics play into this?
- How do people make decisions?
- What tips a decision in our favor by 5%?
Most of us aren’t thinking about that. I wasn’t doing it enough, until this happened.
Now, for my clients, I am.
We’re looking at the aggregation of incremental gains. 1% here. 4% there. It adds up.
- What we say on the first call.
- What happens between the call and the meeting.
- How we run the meeting.
- What the experience is post-meeting.
And it’s fun, especially for those willing to put in a little work to see outsized returns.
What can you do TODAY to prepare people for your meetings?
What obstacles can you remove ahead of time? Before the meeting begins?
Want to know more? Reach out to the email below.